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Please Come Forward (Continuation of The Massage)

On my birthday, my husband saw a media release indicating that a massage therapist in our area had been arrested for sexual assault. He showed me and we both knew it was the same man from my massage. They were asking for anyone who might have further knowledge on the matter to come forward. Well, there we go, I guess it’s my time to finally speak. I desperately didn’t want to come forward with information on my birthday, so I vowed to do it first thing Monday. The trouble was, I could think of little else all weekend. Mostly that someone had obviously come forward about the guy and he was arrested, and I hadn’t said a thing. How many people could have been helped if I’d had the guts to say something when it happened a month ago? I felt like a bag of garbage about not stopping him in his tracks.

I booked an appointment with a police officer on the case. We met at the station in a private room where recording devices were in use and I was aware that we were being watched by other people as I gave my statement. All of that didn’t bother me, I actually thought it was kind of neat. It did influence me to understand the weight of the situation though. I was asked if I was coming forward in a way that meant that I’d be willing to go to the witness stand if the case went to trial. Holy heavy! I said that I would, this guy didn’t just hurt me, he apparently had done the same to other women as well and they deserved my support.

I told my story with as much detail as I could possibly recall. I thought I did a very thorough job. Then the officer said she was going to ask me a few more questions to fill in any blanks. I thought, what blanks? Her line of questioning became very specific: At this point was he standing on the left or right side of you? Was it just the fingertips or more of the fingers grazing there? Was there music playing? What was he wearing? What was the level of lighting and did it stay consistent throughout the massage? It was really starting to feel like this lady didn’t believe me, especially since I was told to say, “I don’t know” if I wasn’t positive. Needing to say “I don’t know” so many times was quickly making me defensive and she picked up on that. She explained that she’s been involved in cases like this and, unfortunately, these are the kind of questions I could expect from his lawyer as he tries to prove his client’s innocence. The more detail I was able to recall now the better. I certainly wasn’t going to remember a year from then if it went to trial.

On most law shows I’ve appreciated that a person is innocent until proven guilty. I’m a rooter for the underdog. Believer in the good of people and hopeful of wrongful accusations. But, being a victim of sexual assault and needing to prove that what happened to me happened while someone tries to poke holes in the story is fucking brutal. Period.

Because I’ve come forward to the police, I’ve been called by many people involved in prepping people for trials, and victim services. Everyone wants to know how I’m coping with the incident of assault. I do think I have some things to work through there, but I have a lot more stress concerning taking the stand. I’d had trouble finding my voice during the massage, and for a month afterwards. Speaking my truth to a room of people would be the scariest thing I’d ever done. Then again, it might be the most empowering thing too. So, deep breath. Bring it on.

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